UTSUNOMIYA, Tochigi Pref. (Kyodo) Former Labor Minister Masakuni Murakami was released Wednesday on parole before the end of his 26-month prison term for taking bribes.

A former Upper House member from the Liberal Democratic Party, Murakami, 77, was imprisoned in May 2008 after the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal. He has consistently maintained his innocence.

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